LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide) is a psychedelic drug commonly referred to as “acid.” When ingested, it alters the user’s thoughts and perceptions. When an individual uses an excessive amount of LSD or does so during an adverse emotional state, he or she may encounter disturbing hallucinations and feelings of anxiety or panic.
But unlike many other intoxicating substances, such as alcohol or heroin, it does not appear that it is possible to ingest a fatal amount. Moreover, when a person “overdoses” on LSD, they are most likely experiencing what is also called a “bad trip.”
Signs and Symptoms of LSD (Acid) Overdose
LSD is produced in labs and is derived from a chemical in the ergot fungus. When used, the drug is usually placed under the tongue using blotter paper or swallowed. Less commonly, it can be found on the street as tablets or gelatin squares.
Although its use may be less risky in comparison to many other substances, LSD is not, by any means, without its dangers. Severe injury and death have occurred as an indirect result of consuming LSD. Indeed, accidents, self-mutilation, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors have occurred during LSD trips, when users are not fully aware of what outcomes of their actions may be.
Common effects of LSD include the following:
- A distorted perception of time
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Synaesthesia, or mixed senses (for example, “seeing” sounds)
- Enhanced sense of hearing and smell
Unwanted side effects may include the following:
- Excessive perspiration
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid heartbeat
- High body temperature
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
The repeated use of LSD is particularly dangerous and can adversely affect an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
In contrast to these relatively mild symptoms, a bad trip experience may be extremely unpleasant and even terrifying. LSD users may encounter frightening hallucinations and alterations in their thoughts and moods, which can place them at increased risk of serious injury or death.
Some potentially adverse outcomes include the following:
- Extreme anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Rapid mood swings
- Accidents involving injuries
In one troubling case, in 1953, 43-year-old American bacteriologist and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee Dr. Frank Olsen took a deadly leap from the window of a 13th story hotel in the city of New York. Several days earlier, at a meeting in Maryland, he was allegedly given a dose of LSD by his supervisor without his knowledge.
Although psychosis or suicide among those who use LSD is relatively rare, it is undoubtedly a risk. These events are especially likely for individuals who have a history of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or other conditions that can induce psychotic symptoms.
The effects of LSD can be highly unpredictable, and it can be challenging to determine if a user might experience a bad trip. Even people who have used the drug repeatedly without encountering any problems may suddenly suffer adverse effects such as those mentioned.
One danger associated with chronic LSD abuse is that users can develop a tolerance for the drug. When a person first experiments with LSD, they are likely to experience the hallucinogenic effects rapidly and intensely. However, after repeated use, the brain begins to diminish the drug’s effects, and the individual will need to use the drug in higher amounts to achieve the sought-after effects they once did.
If a person uses LSD chronically, it can also build their tolerance to other hallucinogens. Unfortunately, this increased tolerance can drive a person to use more drugs in an attempt to have a “good” trip. This issue is further complicated because it is difficult to regulate the dose of an illicit drug like LSD, which can induce effects when used in the microgram range.
Of note, LSD is not considered to be physically addictive. Users of LSD do not typically experience drug cravings, and discontinuing LSD use does not result in withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for Drug Addiction and Abuse
Although it is not believed that LSD has a high potential for addiction, it can most certainly be abused in excessive amounts, and its effects can lead to dangerous circumstances that resemble the consequences of addiction. Also, LSD is frequently used in conjunction with other intoxicating substances, including illegal drugs and alcohol. Some users have also reported developing a psycho-emotional reliance on LSD.
Any individual who is abusing LSD or another substance should seek professional help as soon as possible. Just Believe Recovery offers evidence-based approaches for the treatment of substance abuse that include essential therapeutic services, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual/family counseling, and group support.
We can help you or a loved one restore your life to its full potential so you can experience the happiness you deserve! Call us today!